For many music fans, our first experiences with debt entrapment were with Columbia House, the mail-order service that, once upon a time, would sell us 12 CDs for a penny and then force us to buy more at a crazy mark-up. Improbably, Columbia House only just shut down this past August. And now, it looks like it might already be coming back again, this time to capitalize on the vinyl boom.
The Wall Street Journal reports that John Lippman, the man who bought the company out of bankruptcy this month, is hoping to relaunch it. “You can see a yearning and an interest to try a new format,” he says, and that new format he’s talking about is really an old one.
Lippman, a former Lehman Brothers exec, bought the company at auction for about $1.5 million. He’s hoping to use social media to get millennials interested in buying big stacks of vinyl via mail. He doesn’t think there are enough online retailers offering it: “For a category that is meaningful and growing rapidly, you don’t see a whole lot of choice.” He probably won’t offer 12 LPs for a penny. But the mere fact that Columbia House will continue to exist, in any form, is crazy.